“We decided to expose this horror because there are people who accuse us of lying and showing dog bones“, said AFP’s institute director Dr. Hen Gugel, who didn’t even try to hold back tears.
It shows that bones and pieces of flesh are held together by sheathed electrical cable. “In the scanner“, he explains,”Two spines are clearly visible. A boy or a girl, we don’t know, a child. The posture of the two bodies shows that the elder was trying to protect the younger. They were tied up and then burned alive“.
Doctor Kugel wipes away a few more tears. “I have been doing this business for 31 years. I have never seen such savagery, such brutality, such ruthlessness. It’s too bad“.
A headless body
Israeli officials have counted more than 1,400 dead since an October 7 attack by hundreds of Hamas Islamists who infiltrated the Palestinian territories and kibbutzim from the Gaza Strip.
Since then, Israel has been shelling Gaza, where local authorities have recorded around 2,750 deaths.
In addition to seven forensic doctors from the Tel Aviv Institute, an anthropologist, a radiologist and eight geneticists were involved in identifying the bodies, assisted by about thirty volunteers.
All said it was a surprise that the victims’ lungs were filled with smoke. Other bodies were riddled with bullets in the back. Still others have their arms pierced with knives or projectiles, revealing that they fought hand-to-hand against their attackers.
“We don’t know how many children died and how many old people died. There are also many headless bodies. It will take some time to identify everyone.“, agrees Dr. Kugel.
Whole family of Ukrainians killed in Hamas attack. They fled the conflict in their country. Their identities are still unknown. There are also American nationals.
“Maybe other nationalities“, notes forensic pathologist Hagar Mizrahi.
Behind him, an electric sliding door opens with a porthole. On a long metal table, lies a gray body. Again, can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl. Tattoos are visible on the back and swollen limbs. The victim was not burned alive, but the bullet holes were clearly visible.
Those in charge of the venue ask journalists “Demonstrate responsibility by not releasing information that could disturb the families of victims of torture“.
I smell the fragrance
Nurid Boublil, head of the genetic identification department, notes that hundreds of bodies have been transported to the institute. Most have been identified.
“But everything is made difficult by the fact that often the tortured are tied together. So a bag can have two bodies or even three bodies“, adds the doctor.
Before arriving at this institution, some bodies first passed through the Shura military base, near Ramla (centre), where they awaited initial identification or burial in refrigerated containers.
At the site, Israel Weiss, the former chief rabbi of the military, came out of retirement to help, among doctors, forensic experts and volunteers.
“Total coffee junkie. Tv ninja. Unapologetic problem solver. Beer expert.”